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Storytelling in ‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’ – Character Development & Discoverables

Credits: Activision/ FromSoftware

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has received a lot of praise for its gameplay and how it expands on the usual FromSoftware formula. Between the stunning world design and exciting new ways to interact with/ traverse that world, it’s no wonder it won “Best of Gamescom” and “Best Action Game” at Gamescom 2018. Though one aspect of the game we can’t overlook is its storytelling; and much like the gameplay, it expands on the usual FromSoftware formula beautifully!

So in light of the recently released Story Preview Trailer, let’s take a look at how storytelling differs in Sekiro, and what returning features you can expect from the old Dark Souls/ Bloodborne formula.

Dedicated Storytelling – A Developed & Deliberate Protagonist:

Game mechanics and storytelling usually go hand in hand. For example, in the Dark Souls and Bloodborne series, the story is what’s happening in the world around you and those who came before; meanwhile, you – the main character – are simply the ‘cure’. Because of this, it doesn’t really matter who your character is as they are a small part of a much larger story. This is why you were able to create whatever type of character you want. In Sekiro, you can’t create your base character because your character IS the story; and as such, other game mechanics also reflect that.

The first big change is that your character will actually speak. He will interact with characters around him and thus start to give you a better sense of who he is and what he believes. Additionally, you will actually get to see part of his backstory through the use of flashbacks to understand why he makes the choices he does. In an interview with GameInformer, Yasuhiro Kitao (Manager of Marketing and Communications at FromSoftware) stated that they’re “trying to tell more of a drama.” There is a “fixed protagonist” and story is built around him and the characters closest to him. We get our first glimpse of this in the recent Story Preview Trailer. This isn’t showing off the main game story but rather part of the protagonists backstory and the foundation of his relationship with his mentor, The Owl – as well as how he got that scar over his eye it seems.

Fragmented Storytelling – Item Descriptions & World Hints Return:

Now if you are a fan of the usual FromSoftware storytelling method – aka leaving hints scattered around the world in item descriptions and architecture –  fear not! In the same interview with GameInformer, Kitao reassured that they don’t want to rob fans of the “fragmented storytelling” they’ve become accustomed to.

“We don’t want to feed the user every little bit of information. We don’t want to tell them straight-up the answers, or how something is. We’d like them to experience and explore that for themselves.” – Kitao

Now in case you’re wondering how a Fragmented and Dedicated approach to storytelling can co-exist, quite easily actually! Having a main story to follow with discoverables along the way to add to the world lore isn’t uncommon – take Horizon: Zero Dawn for example. Though FromSoftware is actually going a step further! Even in character centered moments, they’re not just going to straight up hand you all the information in giant expositions. Instead they want you to – as always – “pick up on these subtle hints through the cut scenes… [and] dialogue.” So if you’re a fan of listening to Lore Masters like VaatiVidya on YouTube unravel all the subtle intricacies of the plot, your pastime remains intact!

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice comes to PC, PS4, and Xbox One March 22

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